Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Tracking Of Electricity Usage

Electricity usage data for my own home dates back to 1999.

A first post in this blog in January 2013 was offered as example to my utility, Pacific Power , to inspire best presentation to motivate customer energy conservation. 

Concurrent with that 2013 report, I accepted paperless billing. I must then update my usage records at least every two years, where that is the maximum period for an online View Usage History option. Here then are charts for my house updated in the form I find useful, through October, 2014.

I continue to benefit from 2009 switch to a gas clothes dryer. Might the odd 2008 spike be from a defective electric clothes dryer? If so, maintenance action might have come sooner with appropriate charts in billing. I have failed to blame the spike on a defective meter, or reckless use of a space heater. The big drop in 2009 might relate too, to eliminating computer CRT displays.

I believe continued decrease of usage since 2011, by about 13 KWH per day, is in part from 100% replacement of my lighting with so-efficient disk LEDs. Credit the lighting improvement with 3 KWH per day savings. Much of the remaining 10 KWH per day is from reduced occupancy, from two adults, to one, Summer 2011. That's a tough way to control electricity usage.

Where billing periods range from 26 days to 39 days, a chart including dollar amounts has more scatter. Through the scatter, see a 25%, $15 per month reduced cost beyond Fall, 2011. This is inconsistent with a more than 50% reduction in electricity consumed, due to rise of unit cost. The cents per KWH rise since 2011 is due to persisting, high base charges that gain significance as usage drops. High base charges penalize conservation. To better motivate conservation, there should be no base charges, all costs proportional to energy used. Pacific Power has maintained a steady net eleven cents per KWH billing for heavier residential users of electricity, over the past four years.

My utility offers only a bar chart option, of KWH usage for each billing period. It means nothing to me.

My more-meaningful charts include defective billing dates, fudged since billing dates are not provided with usage data downloads. Successive readings can occur within the same month, and that might lead to charting confusion. Where one home has readings beginning of month and another at end of month, there is seasonal scatter in a comparison. I want downloads to include real reading dates.

What I really want, and a purpose of this post, is to inspire utility companies to offer better, routine, reports to inspire customers. The post is inspired by conversation among Northwest utility professionals in web site Conduit, sponsored by Bonneville Power Administration. I will update links here to that conversation. For now, try this  forum of BPA people, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, web site Conduit.

At February, 2016, nothing has changed on the usage sharing with customers by my Oregon utility, Pacific Power.

My electricity usage is still very small. Pacific Power still takes about $40 per month from me, unfairly regardless of my conservation. I study this as part of a Community College class, where I seek to gain capability with photovoltaic components, to generate my own DC power off-grid, for lighting disaster preparedness. No one can stop me. I will remain on-grid for AC power until the Earthquake. I have been monitoring my old refrigerator, and find it is not a monster. It draws 1.3 KWH per day, and costs me about $73 per year at the high fifteen cents per KWH. I don't use much hot water, but must be paying a lot for that old-fashioned electric heating. Perhaps I need off-grid hot water too, for disaster preparedness. I am not stuck-in-the-mud, helpless. I can do more.

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